Rule Zero: Gem Magic (PFRPG) PDF

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Unlock the Power Of Magic Gems!

Gemstones are more than just valuable treasure. Used to cast powerful spells or create mighty magic items, these precious stones are worth far more than a pile of gold. With Rule Zero: Gem Magic, gemstones can become an integral part of any adventurer’s arsenal. Once attached to an existing magic item, these jewels grant new abilities and powerful spells allowing heroes to get more out of their magic items. For the GM, gemstones offer a new way to reward your players, giving them the ability to upgrade items without having to discard their old gear. Of course, gemstones can add power and versatility to your favorite villains as well.

Inside this PDF, you'll find a new system for including gem magic into your game. Each gem comes in four different qualities and each quality grants different abilities depending on the item to which the gem is attached. In total, this PDF contains:

  • A Complete System for creating Gemstones and Sockets, including a new feat and 3 spells
  • 100 Magic Gemstones, 4 of each type of Gemstone

Rule Zero states that the game belongs to the players and their Game Master. Each group should make the game their own. This series of short, easy to integrate PDFs are designed to give GMs the tools to tailor the game to fit their needs. Each PDF in the series features an entirely reimagined mechanic, designed to give a new perspective on existing rules! Written by veteran game designer, Jason Bulmahn, you can be sure that these rules will fit seamlessly into your game.

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An review


This supplement is 16 pages long, 1 page front cover, ~3/4 pages SRD+editorial, leaving us with 14 1/4 pages of content, so let's take a look, shall we?

So...socketed magic items. In this system of magic items/gem magic, armors and weapons can have one socket, two (two become available for base items of +3 and better enchantments) or even 3 (+5 and better enchantments), staves can have one socket and other magic items get up to 1 socket, unless being categorized as a major magic item, in which case they may have 2 sockets. The first slot costs 500 Gp, the second 2000 Gp and the third 4000 Gp. Gemstones can be created analogue to other magic items via the Craft Gemstone-feat. Upon insertion, a gemstone requires 1 hour of attunement before conferring its bonuses and inserting the gemstone takes one minute of precise, deliberate and careful insertion - no quick switching. Gemstone effects, unlike otherwise noted, are supernatural abilities.

Aforementioned attunement-period can be shortened via one of the 3 new spells. Another one of the new spells allows you to go horadrim cube on gemstones and fuse multiple gemstones of a lesser quality into one of a higher quality. The final spell would be the true winner, though - allowing you to grow a socket as a third eye that holds temporarily a gemstone as if you were an item of the "other" category, not requiring an attunement time due to the short duration. Damn cool!

Now I already mentioned gem quality - essentially, there are 4 different qualities, from worst to best: chip (2 K Gp), shard (8 K Gp), gem (18 K Gp)and jewel (32 K Gp). Now when inserted into armors, these items generally offer a passive benefit, when added to weapons they offer either passive bonuses or weapon quality-like benefits à la additional sonic damage. Staves benefit from being studded with gems by allowing the staff to use charges to produce a spell in a can and the other benefits... well, are other and vary wildly all over the place. Now thankfully, designer Jason Bulmahn has not simply lazily stepped up the respective benefits for each quality, but actually offers some interesting varieties here: Let's take the agate as an illustrating example, shall we?

When used in an armor, a agate chip halves stealth-skill armor-check penalty when in fog, rain or similar weather. A shard completely allows you to ignore armor check penalty when in such a weather. As a gem, an armor-inserted agate also offers the spell-like ability to 3/day use obscuring mist and see easily through the mist in addition to the base effects and in the jewel form, the wearer may also turn greater invisible for a limited duration. When instead inserted into weapons, we get a non-linear progression: In chip-form, atk-rolls are not penalized by moist weather, whereas in jewel form the weapon deals additional sonic damage and has a chance to cause deafness upon criticals, but no access to the chip's benefits. The stave-inserts allow access to obscuring mist, gust of wind, call lightning and control winds, respectively. Finally, the other-category offers at first a +2 bonus to saves versus inhaled poisons, then +2 AC versus nonmagical ranged attacks and at gem-level, we add feather fall to the latter benefit, while finally, the jewel also grants access to fly.

A total of 24 classes of gems, each with their 4 steps of quality are provided, and they do all provide rather versatile options of effect on all steps.


Editing and formatting are top-notch, I didn't notice any significant glitches. Layout adheres to an easy-to-read, easy to print-out 2-column b/w-standard and the b/w-artworks provided are neat. the pdf unfortunately has no bookmarks, which is a rather significant comfort detriment. Anotehr comfort-detriment would be that the gems are supposed to have the auras of the spells used in their creation - however, while the spells are mentioned, the auras have to be looked up unless you have an even better memory than I do and can recall the auras of x spells from the top of your head, when this unnecessary book-flipping could have been easily avoided.

Socketed items rock. I love the idea and the gems herein work well and offer cool, versatile benefits. And in fact, you be seeing me jump up and down and singing the praises of how this pdf offers a vastly superior option to the lame ioun stone insertion of the Pathfinder Lodge in Golarion - and said praise would be justified, seeing that this system, at least in my opinion, is vastly superior and more interesting.

So...what's the catch? The lack of bookmarks hurts this pdf. And there this other socketed magic item-system, Interjection Games "One Bling to Rule Them All".

And while Interjection Games' system has some minor flaws, the overall content is more exciting, at least to me: Essentially, it allows for 3 classes of mundane items that turn magical by inserting PAIRS of crystals that can be switched on the fly or by inserting permanent special crystals -said crystals cannot easily be identified, categorized etc., but they do have an inherent susceptibility to having their unique effects counterspelled. In Interjection Games' system, we have also an extremely broad selection of unique effects, just about all of which don't just provide spells in a can or duplicate effects, but rather do unique things, like conjuring a cloud of vampiric mosquitoes that heal you or another one that allows you to survive a fall from orbit or, or, or, or. The permanent crystals can be handcrafted in a staggering variety of ways.

Rule Zero: Gem Magic, is a tad bit more concise in its rules-language, but the respective benefits are also less imaginative than in its competitor - Interjection Games' supplement often had this "no other spell/magic quality/etc. does that"-effect, making it as a supplement, at least for me, more rewarding. Yes, Rule Zero: Gem Magic also thankfully treads new ground, but in a less pronounced way that didn't leave me cold, but also didn't blow me away.

In the end, both systems have their benefits and drawbacks and particularly adept DMs may want to get both and combine them. Personally, I prefer the wild ideas of Interjection Games' supplement and if you're a fan of uncommon ideas, I suggest you take a look at it, but undoubtedly, this is still a very good supplement and if you're a stickler for perfect rules-grammar, Rules Zero may be the better choice for you. My final verdict will hence clock in at 4.5 stars, rounded down to 4 for the purpose of this platform.

Endzeitgeist out.

Its available! After the long wait... grab some gems for your game!

(There is a small preview over at the Minotaur Games site)

Jason Bulmahn
Minotaur Games

(Here is a direct link to the preview.)

Scarab Sages

Pathfinder Rulebook, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

Can't find said preview...

Sigh, ok ill get it. Curse you jason buhlmahn...

Sovereign Court

Unseelie wrote:
Can't find said preview...


Ruby Shard
Armor: The armor is hot to the touch and any metal parts seem to glow faintly in darkness (as a candle). The wearer gains resist cold 5.
Weapon: The weapon’s metal pieces glow with an inner light (as a candle). The weapon deals 1d4 points of fire damage on a hit. This damage is not doubled on a critical hit. If the weapon is a flaming weapon, this gemstone instead increases the fire damage dealt on a hit to 1d10.
Staff: The staff can be used to cast fireball, consuming 2 charges from the staff.
Other: Once per day, whenever the wearer catches on fire, he can extinguish the fire as a swift action without needing to make a saving throw or other check.

Scarab Sages

Pathfinder Rulebook, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

Just came back to say I found it, but thanks. :)

Silver Crusade

Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

Reading this right now and want to immediately incorporate it into my games :-D

Glad to see folks are enjoying it. Btw, I put a link to the preview up in the first post.

Jason Bulmahn
Minotaur Games

Btw, seeing as this is the largest PDF that I've ever put out, if anyone notes any issues in the document, please send me aPM so I can get them cleaned up ASAP.

Jason Bulmahn
Minotaur Games

If a gem doesn't specifically call out a type of bonus (Or if the type of bonus would normally stack with itself), can you stack gems in an item, Diablo style, or can you only have one type of gem per item?

For instance, if I have a +3 weapon with two sockets and two emerald shards, can I pop them both in and deal 2d4 extra acid damage?

As a general rule, the same bonus from the same source, even if untyped, does not stack. I will clarify this in a future update (along with a few typos).

Jason Bulmahn
Minotaur Games

All right. And one more question:

For the gems that deal elemental damage, shouldn't the higher level gems function as the chip (AKA, they take half damage from that element) plus their main effect?

Pathfinder Adventure, Adventure Path Subscriber

Very cool. I had no qualms picking this up and so far it's what I'd hoped. "What it says on the tin."

Thanks Jason. Way to think outside of the box.

Ashram, you are correct. I will fix that in the next update.

For the rest that have picked this up, thanks for making this the #4 downloaded product on Paizo last week!

Jason Bulmahn
Minotaur Games

Hey there Everybody,

Just an FYI, I submitted a revised PDF to the store this evening, fixing up a few typos and making a handful of small rules corrections. The new file should go live tomorrow. Thanks for helping spot a few errors.

Jason Bulmahn
Minotaur Games

I am pretty sure that the revised PDF went up today folks. All those little issues have been fixed. Other than a few typos, the only substantive changes were alterations to the Ruby, Sapphire, Lapis Lazuli, and Emerald Shards and Gems (giving them the abilities of the chips as well), and a clarification to the Large Pearl and Turquoise Gem.

Enjoy the PDF folks.

Jason Bulmahn
Minotaur Games

1 person marked this as a favorite.

#2 on the Paizo sales list of Products from other Publishers! Woot. Thanks to everyone who picked up this PDF.

Jason Bulmahn
Minotaur Games

Liberty's Edge

Huh? According to the list I just saw, Gem Magic is #1

I know because Gem Magic knocked New Paths #7: The Expanded White Necromancer by Kobold Press from the number 1 spot (where it has been for the last 4 weeks ... *grumble* :) down to number 2 :)

Reviewewed first on, then submitted to Nerdtrek and GMS magazine and posted here, on OBS and's shop. Cheers!

Solid review, End! I think I'll buy this based on that review. :-D

Thanks! If you're willing to take a look at something different, I'd also recommend One Bling - with some talent and willingness, they can be combined into a system that is bigger than its component parts; At least that is what I've done in my own group.

Neat! Thanks for the tip. :-D

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